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The first planeload of US-bound Kosovo refugees was scheduled to arrive at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. Officials said the 453 ethnic Albanians would spend three to six weeks in processing at nearby Fort Dix, undergoing background checks and securing sponsor families to help them prepare for life in America. The US has agreed to accept 20,000 of the refugees. A second group of 400 was scheduled to depart the Balkans tomorrow.

The US was close to releasing two captured Yugoslav soldiers, Defense Secretary William Cohen said. The comment was made at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, where Cohen accompanied President Clinton on a visit to US troops involved in the NATO bombing campaign.

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Top Republican lawmakers said they expected a $12.9 billion measure to pay for the air war against Yugoslavia to be approved today in the House. But some GOP opponents of the campaign said they would offer an amendment to cut off funding altogether. Others want to expand the package to meet what they consider to be long-neglected military needs. House Democrats would prefer to pare down the package to something closer to the president's $6 billion request.

Major US Internet firms have agreed to offer parents easy access to the latest technology for controlling and monitoring children's online activities, Vice President Al Gore said. The accord was a response to the deadly school shooting spree in Colorado that raised questions about youngsters being exposed to violent and hate-filled Internet sites. The companies have developed a site with a variety of resources and have agreed to provide links to it from their own home pages or popular spots on their Web sites.

New orders to US factories rebounded in March, more than balancing a February decline, the Commerce Department reported. Orders rose 2 percent to a seasonally adjusted $350 billion, following a 1.8 percent plunge the month before. The March recovery was stronger than analysts expected, and the department softened its estimates of the February decline, originally reported at 2.5 percent.

Reliable estimates of the damage caused by storms in Oklahoma and Kansas were not available, but there was speculation that costs would be the highest on record for tornadoes - eclipsing $400 million in property damage in Xenia, Ohio, in 1974. The Oklahoma National Guard was helping with rescue efforts there - and tanks joined police and fire vehicles in blocking streets where the heaviest destruction occurred. Clinton was expected to visit the stricken area Saturday.

Boeing officials were trying to understand why one of their Delta 3 rockets left a commercial-communications satellite in orbit thousands of miles too low. The rocket was carrying a Loral Space & Communications Orion 3 satellite, which was to provide TV, Internet, and other links from India to Hawaii. It was the second consecutive failure for a Delta 3 rocket and a bitter blow for the US launch industry, which was already reeling from last month's failure of a military Titan 4 rocket and the loss of a satellite on a commercial Athena rocket.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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